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Phonetic transcription of the word "true"?

asked 2018-08-16 13:46:15 -0400

My friend and I are in a heated argument about the pronunciation and IPA translation of the word "true". All dictionaries seem to say that you can transcribe it this way /truː/...however, I rarely pronounce it this way. My pronunciation (Ohio) is basically /tʃruː/ fact, saying /truː/ isn't that common to me. Ive repeated over and over and observed my tongue placement and am more convinced than ever the dictionary is not accurate to the way most people I know pronounce it. For twenty four hours Ive been repeating "true or false" both ways to hear the difference.

Basically I need someone smarter and more professional than both me and my friend to act as a tiebreaker in this. Can you help?

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answered 2018-08-27 21:33:09 -0400

The transcription for <true> that you see in dictionaries is phonemic, that is, it's an abstract representation of the word. The phonetic transcription represents what happens in actual pronunciation and it would be like this ['t̠hɹ˳u] (superscript h). In this case, the place of articulation of /t/ is retracted because of /r/, so it is no longer alveolar but post-alveolar. /r/ is devoiced because of /t/ aspiration. They both form an affricate cluster, so as you say, the pronunciation is /tʃru/ rather than /tru/.

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answered 2018-08-27 04:42:38 -0400

Hello, This is really interesting. My British English pronunciation would also tend towards /tʃruː/ I came across a discussion of this recently regarding the word tree in an article by Bruce Derwing in the excellent book The Linguistics of Literacy (ed Downing, Lima & Noonan) when doing some work on visual word recognition. Derwing calls the sound you are describing a 'slightly affricated and retroflex variant of /t/' which is neutralised before /r/ and therefore very difficult for speakers to distinguish from /t/ itself. This is interesting in the discussion of how visual word recognition occurs - assembled phonologically or led by orthography - as he writes that young children often make a č interpretation with the preliterate spelling chree. Derwing proposes that the main/only reason we interpret /t/ is led by the orthography. Why professional phoneticians should also prefer /t/ in dictionaries etc, I'm afraid I cannot answer. The discussion of this is on p197 of the book listed above if you'd like to find it. Best wishes, Ed

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Asked: 2018-08-16 13:46:15 -0400

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Last updated: Aug 16 '18